Disney has yet to release a paid Fastpass option for Disney World. But with price increases happening all over, is paid Fastpass inevitable?
It's without a doubt Disney has teams of people working on what parts of the business can withstand price increases. It seems like every week there is a price increase going on here, there, and everywhere. And while price increases are generally expected, as you cannot expect Disney to continue to invest in their parks (like spending $1billion on Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge) without that cost being passed onto all of us who enjoy it. Don't get me wrong, there are price increases on certain things that bother me personally, like $3.50 for low quality Dasani bottled water. But, Disney have a problem that we all wished we had when owning a business - too much demand. Disney's strategy is to increase prices to reduce the crowds and try to spread out guests to lower seasons.
While we all have of our own thresholds of whether Disney World "is worth it", I've never (yet) come away thinking that I was ripped off. As I said previously, some of the beverages, cocktails and merchandise (for me) is starting to hit that mark though. On my most recent trip I actually spent quite a bit less money overall because some of the prices are just beyond comprehension.
That brings us to an area that Disney must be itching to monetise (and haven't fully yet) - and that's Fastpass. Disney already monetise Fastpass at both Disneyland California and Disneyland Paris.
The Other Disney Parks
At Disneyland California they have a "maxpass" system. Here you have the old Fastpass system where you walk to the attraction, and then scan your ticket for your return time. If you pay for the Maxpass, which costs $20 a day per person, you can make those Fastpass bookings from your phone without needing to go up to the attraction. So while you're not technically buying Fastpass with it, you're paying for the convenience factor, which is why it's not hated.
At Disneyland Paris, Fastpass works the old way, too. You go up to the attraction, scan your ticket to get your return time. However, they have paid options that give 'speedy access' to attractions on top of Fastpass. It's a little more complicated due to the categories of attractions, but prices start for one category that gives you one time Fastpass access to Ratatouille, Peter Pan's Flight & Buzz Lightyear Last Blast which costs between £26-£40 depending on the season, all the way up to unlimited Fastpass access for all attractions for between £105-£131 depending on the season per person, per day. That's pricey.
Will They, Won't They?
If (but most likely when) Disney pull the trigger on offering a paid Fastpass option for Walt Disney World, they'll likely mimic the Disneyland Paris setup. When that trigger is pulled, there will be a massive amount of backlash. It'll likely be on a scale we've never seen before. Disney know this, why is likely why it's not been done already. However, I'm sure they've done the math and when they've exhausted other price increases to increase revenue, Fastpass will be ripe for monetising.
Fastpass Isn't Really "Free" Now
I know Fastpass+ is marketed as "free", or "included with your ticket", and we have for a long time accepted that. However, nothing is free. It's priced in. The same way that Memory Maker started to be included in our tickets, but a lot people didn't notice the price went up quite steeply when that happened. It's not free, it's priced in. Disney now have a track record of taking away "free" or "included" perks and start charging for them, just look at resort parking.
It's Already Happening
Disney has been dipping their toes in the water with paid Fastpass options already - and you might not have even noticed. For a premium, Disney tested out selling 1-day tickets with 3 Fastpass attractions included, and if you stay at concierge level at a deluxe resort or villa, you can actually buy another 3 Fastpass without tier restrictions for $50 per person, per day.
Your 3 Will Likely Stay
While I think they'll keep the 3 Fastpass everyone gets included with their ticket, they'll either have to limit the "free" Fastpass allocation to add a paid option, or add more into the mix, which could result in a longer Fastpass lines. The math and planning that will likely going into this sort of decision is fascinating, and it's a shame we never really get any insiders explaining their train of thought or how they come to their conclusions.
However, it may not happen this year or next year, but a paid Fastpass option is going to be on the table.